Modeling thermal conductivity of polymer nanocomposites

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University of New Brunswick


The miniaturization of devices like heat exchangers, power electronics, and motors has boosted performance but increased heat generation in electronic systems. Effective heat management in engineering systems necessitates exploring polymer nanocomposites for improved heat transfer. This study examines the thermal conduction in carbon nanotube (CNT) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) polymer nanocomposites, focusing on sample preparation, filler wt%, and load transfer impact on thermal conductivity. The Transient Plane Source (TPS) method is evaluated for accuracy in measuring thermal conductivity. Characterization includes scanning electron microscopy, scanning transmission electron microscopy, dynamic mechanical analysis, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Results indicate 265% increase in thermal conductivity with 10 wt% of CNT filler. Various models were studied concluding that classic models fall short in accurately predicting the thermal conductivity due to inability to account for the characteristics of anisotropic nanoscale particles. The Deng model, excluding consideration of interfacial thermal resistance emerges as a standout candidate for predicting thermal conductivity with minimal experimental variables.